Morrison
Angus Taylor

Prime minister Scott Morrison’s ministerial appointments reveal a lot about the “new generation” Coalition government, including the elevation of the anti-renewables agenda and an apparent commitment to relieving the strain on infrastructure in Australia’s fast-growing capital cities by potentially slowing down population growth.

Adding “population” to the cities and urban infrastructure portfolio, Morrison is pinning his hopes on the “congestion busting” skills of Alan Tudge who will replace Paul Fletcher as minister of the newly expanded portfolio.

Morrison said Melbourne-based Tudge will take on “one of the larger challenges that I know is burning in the minds and conversations of Australians.”

The Property Council has welcomed the instalment of a dedicated minister to deal with cities, urban infrastructure and population matters, but hinted that it, for one, would like to see population growth continue. And Morrison, as a former employee of The Property Council in his younger days, ought to be capable of reading between the lines more than most.

“We look forward to working with Alan Tudge in his new role on the development and implementation of policies that will create great cities for current and future generations of Australians,” Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said.

“Australia’s major cities are experiencing strong growth, from natural population increase and immigration, so ensuring they grow well and their residents can prosper and enjoy a great quality of life requires good planning and smart investment,” Mr Ken Morrison said.

“Population growth is certainly playing a role, but we must also recognise that people are attracted to cities for the economic, education and lifestyle benefits and opportunities they offer,” he added.

In other words, get the infrastructure right and plan accordingly. This point, tellingly, featured in last night’s nearly out-of-control QandA program set in Northern Queensland (one clear outcome of the night was that Northern Queensland would happily secede from the rest of the country).

Building and construction industry association, Master Builders, also welcomed the appointment of Tudge as minister of the portfolio.

“We know the importance of this portfolio for the productivity and liveability of our cities and for important issues such as housing affordability and we look forward to working closely with him,” Master Builders Australia chief executive officer Denita Wawn said.

(Interesting that they mentioned liveability, since they’ve tried to hold back liveabilty of our cities with all their might when it comes to sustainable housing and lifting standards by even a fraction)

Michelle Grattan, professorial fellow at the University of Canberra and chief political correspond at The Conversation, suggested that Tudge’s expanded portfolio is giving off mixed-messages about the PM’s stance on immigration.

Grattan said that by transferring the immigration responsibilities of Peter Dutton’s once-mega home affairs portfolio to another minister, Morrison managed to “partially clip Dutton’s wings while also signalling his own belief in the economic benefits of immigration.”

“But he has also put ‘population’ explicitly into a ministry, with cities, urban infrastructure and population to be held by Alan Tudge, and declared that Tudge will be dealing with ‘congestion’,” Grattan wrote.

“So we’ll see where the immigration debate goes from here. The conservatives are not likely to give up their battle to lower the intake as much as they can.”

As the former minister for citizenship and multicultural affairs, Tudge attracted media attention in July for proposing that migrants sit an Australian values test to be granted permanent residency.

He also expressed his concerns that Australia was shifting towards a “European separatist multicultural model” and that migrant integration should be a priority.

What about the new energy minister?

The appointment of Angus Taylor, who has campaigned against wind farms vehemently in the past, as the minister dedicated to “getting electricity prices down” suggests Morrison government will focus on price, rather than emissions, when it comes to energy policy. Early indications are that emissions are off the table, though on Tuesday it looked like Morrison wanted to keep to the Paris commitment: no one knows how, given the lack of policy or programs or even a hint of an emissions reduction plan.

“The minister for getting electricity prices down, also to be known as the minister for energy, will [be] Angus Taylor,” Morrison said, to emphasise his emphasis.

I’m looking for more and new innovative ways for Angus Taylor to bring a greater opportunity to bring the prices down and I’m sure he will be doing that,” Morrison added.

Taylor, the former minister for law enforcement and cyber security, has also been a vocal proponent of the NEG.

Under the ministerial changes the environment and the energy portfolios have also been split, with West Australian MP Melissa Price to take on environment.

Before her political career, Ms Price worked as a lawyer in the grain and mining industries. She formerly assisted former environment minister Josh Frydenberg in the energy and environment role.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s first ministry is as follows:

  • Michael McCormack: Deputy Prime Minister, Minister for Infrastructure and Transport
  • Marise Payne: Minister for Foreign Affairs
  • Simon Birmingham: Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment
  • Mathias Cormann: Minister for Finance, Special Minister of State, Leader of the Government in the Senate
  • Josh Frydenberg; Treasurer
  • Kelly O’Dwyer: Minister for Women, Minister for Jobs and Industrial Relations
  • Christopher Pyne: Minister for Defence
  • Steve Ciobo: Minister for Defence Industry
  • Darren Chester: Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, Minister for Defence Personnel, Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC
  • Christian Porter: Attorney-General
  • Peter Dutton: Minister for Home Affairs
  • David Coleman: Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs
  • Michaelia Cash: Minister for Small Business, Skills and Vocational Education
  • Matthew Canavan: Minister for Resources and Northern Australia
  • Mitch Fifield: Minister for Communications, Minister for the Arts
  • Greg Hunt: Minister for Health
  • Bridget McKenzie: Minister for Rural Health, Minister for Sport, Minister for Regional Communications
  • Dan Tehan: Minister for Education and Training
  • Michael Keenan: Minister for Human Services, Minister for Digital Transformation
  • Paul Fletcher: Minister for Families and Social Services
  • Melissa Price: Minister for the Environment
  • Angus Taylor: Minister for Energy
  • David Littleproud: Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources
  • Nigel Scullion: Minister for Indigenous Affairs
  • David Coleman: Minister for Immigration, Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs
  • Alan Tudge: Minister for Cities, Urban Infrastructure and Population

Edited by Tina Perinotto

One reply on “Cities in, renewables out – Morrison’s new ministry”

  1. Thanks for your mention of Master Builders Australia.

    As Master Builders National Technical Manager I take exception to the comment “Interesting that they mentioned liveability, since they’ve tried to hold back liveabilty of our cities with all their might when it comes to sustainable housing and lifting standards by even a fraction”.

    This comment is false.

    Liveability and sustainability are bigger topics than “minimum standards”. Maybe the focus should be on consistent regulation, with freely available regulatory referenced documents (standards) that are actually policed.

    If these documents were freely available all Australians could socialise and understand them, and actively engage in a meaningful way.

    Master Builders is fully supportive of a market that understands building standards and the incomplete picture they paint.

    The constant niggling comments create an “us and them” mentality and when it comes to Liveability and sustainability this is unhelpful to the conversation.

    I’m always happy to engage on the topics of Liveability and sustainability, feel free to contact me via Master Builders Australia.

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